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Old 01-14-2010, 11:12 AM
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Jeanfromfillmore Jeanfromfillmore is offline
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Default Democrats hope Republican infighting helps stem November losses

Democrats hope Republican infighting helps stem November losses
By BEN GOAD
Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON - Democrats are looking to exploit a rift between moderate and conservative wings of the Republican Party, as they try to stave off expected losses in the House and Senate this fall.
All signs point to a big 2010 for Republicans: Several congressional Democrats are choosing to retire in the face of tough races, the economy remains in crisis under Democratic rule and midterm elections historically favor the party out of power.
But amid the rise of the ultraconservative "tea party" movement, a crop of challengers has emerged to oppose GOP moderates -- and even conservatives -- in Inland races and around the nation.
Area Republicans, and some experts, say current ill will toward the Democratic-controlled White House and Congress could be enough to ensure big Republican gains in the House and Senate. Still, a handful of recent dust-ups between GOP factions around the country indicate differences within the party can be problematic.
Locally, Inland Assemblyman Anthony Adams, R-Hesperia, said last week he would not seek re-election. Adams' announcement came two months after a botched recall attempt by conservatives who, encouraged by KFI-AM's conservative "John and Ken" show, were angry that Adams had voted in February for a state budget plan that temporarily raised taxes. Republicans were already lining up to take him on.
At the federal level, a pair of longtime Inland-area House members face GOP-primary challenges from conservatives.
Reps. Mary Bono Mack, R-Palm Springs, and Ken Calvert, R-Corona, are widely expected to win their party's nomination. But Democrats, who have targeted Bono Mack and Calvert, hope the primary challenges will weaken them financially and politically in advance of a tougher November general election. Both of their districts went for President Barack Obama, a Democrat, in the 2008 presidential election, and Calvert only narrowly held onto his seat.
"With the amount of GOP infighting taking place all cross the country ... the right-wing challengers facing off against Ken Calvert and Mary Bono Mack will peel off votes and force the incumbents to spend time and critical campaign funds," said Andy Stone, a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Highlighting the intra-party strife, the Democratic National Committee has released a new internet video portraying a "GOP Civil War" that has left the Republican Party unready to lead.
But Republicans say the division has been overblown and maintained that, at least in California, the party will coalesce in time for the November elections.
"We've always had disagreements with our own party," Calvert said. "If anyone's having problems now, it's the Democrats. ... They're trying to change the subject."
incumbents confident
Calvert is one of the of the region's most conservative House members, making him an unlikely target in the June primary. Yet he faces a challenge from Chris Riggs, a commercial real estate broker from Corona.
Riggs said he is a more conservative alternative to Calvert, and criticized the incumbent for his 2008 vote for legislation to rescue faltering financial institutions.
"It's pretty hard to say I'm any other thing besides a conservative," Calvert said. "I feel good about my prospects."
To the east, the more moderate Bono Mack faces a primary challenge from Clay Thibodeau, a Hemet Republican seeking support from conservative Republicans.
Thibodeau said he decided to run against Bono Mack after she voted in favor of the so-called cap-and-trade bill, which would put new limits on greenhouse gas emissions in an attempt to combat global warming. Most Republicans oppose the bill, describing it as a tax that would drive energy costs up and force American businesses to move overseas.
Thibodeau said the party establishment is intentionally downplaying the Republican division, because its singular purpose is regaining a congressional majority, even if it comes at the expense of traditional conservative ideology.
"They think having Republicans in office is victory," he said.
Bono Mack's campaign manager said he wasn't worried about the challenge.
"Every year, she has opponents. Most years, she has primary opponents," Ryan Mahoney said by e-mail. "Either way, she wins by large margins because her constituents know that she is fighting for them in Washington."
Calvert and Bono Mack each have amassed large war chests, while their challengers are relying on grass-roots-level support for their election bids.
A more closely contested primary appears likely in California's senatorial race, where front-running former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina faces a potentially difficult GOP-primary contest against Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, an Orange County conservative with support within the tea-party ranks.
GOP wave possible
Enormously vocal, the tea party movement has provided a platform for those in the GOP who want to rein in government spending at any cost, even if it means casting Republican centrists out of office.
Divisions within the party came to light late last year in New York, where Republican infighting over a vacant congressional seat, previously held by the GOP, led to a Democratic victory. Just last week, Florida's moderate Republican Party chairman, under fire from more conservative members of the state party, quit his post.
Whether or not the opposing views within the Republican Party will affect the GOP's chances in November may depend on outside factors -- particularly the economy, according to experts.
"Unless the president has a remarkable rebound, every Republican can rally the base by rallying them against the Obama administration," said Jack Pitney, a professor of government at Claremont McKenna College.
But if unemployment rates drop and optimism about the direction of the country returns, GOP candidates will have to work harder.
"This split could hurt them, but only if there isn't a strong national wave against the Democrats," said Bruce Cain, director of the University of California's Washington Center. "If the economy begins improving, the details of every campaign will matter."
Only then, Cain said, could incumbents such as Bono Mack and Calvert face a serious challenge from Democrats in the general election.
Jon Fleischman, publisher of the conservative Flash Report Web site, said tensions between GOP moderates and conservatives are not strained enough to affect the general elections, where Bono Mack likely would square off against Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet and Calvert likely would face Corona-Norco school board member Bill Hedrick again.
But if and when the incumbents and establishment candidates -- such as Bono Mack, Calvert and Fiorina - win their June primaries, they should pay attention to the entire party.
"The pivotal moment is going to be right after the June primaries," he said. "They're going to have to prove their sincerity to the tea-party movement and the disgruntled Republicans."
http://www.pe.com/localnews/inland/s...4.48be1ca.html
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Old 01-14-2010, 03:09 PM
Kathy63 Kathy63 is offline
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No doubt. Republican infighting has helped democrats by miles. They sat back last election while the republicans were applying purity tests and calling one another neocons.
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